ACLU’s Suit Against the NSA

The American Civil Liberties Union just filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the NSA’s grabbing of the phone records of Verizon customers.

The government’s “mass call tracking” is not authorized by the Patriot Act, and it “violates the First and Fourth Amendments,” the group alleges.

“The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book—with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where,” the lawsuit says. “It gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.”

The ACLU itself is a Verizon customer, the lawsuit states, arguing that the mass call tracking unlawfully interferes with the group’s work.

The information the government has been collecting under this mass call tracking “could readily be used to identify those who contact Plaintiffs for legal assistance or to report human-rights or civil-liberties violations, as well as those whom Plaintiffs contact in connection with their work,” says the lawsuit. “The fact that the government is collecting this information is likely to have a chilling effect on people who would otherwise contact Plaintiffs.”

The ACLU is asking the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York to declare the program unconstitutional and to permanently stop it. The group also wants the court to order government agencies “to purge from their possession all of the call records of Plaintiffs’ communications in their possession collected pursuant to the Mass Call Tracking.”

The ACLU has named as defendants: James Clapper, director of national intelligence; Keith Alexander, director of the NSA; Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary; Eric Holder, Attorney General; and Robert Mueller III, director of the FBI.

Joining the ACLU in the suit is the ACLU Foundation, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Why Was This Spying Classified in the First Place?.

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